Friday, March 30, 2012

Evening View - Storm Brewing

Went out after supper this evening to take a few photos.  A thunderstorm was brewing.  Seems strange this early in the season to have thunder and lightening.  Our weather is very strange indeed!  I tried to capture the sky and that certain light that comes when a storm is on its way.

Had four new shrubs to plant.  I hurried up and got them in the ground before the rain arrived.   My Mom bought me a Sweet Shrub.   It is an old fashioned bush that grew on the family farm.  They have an unusual flower but smell wonderful.  

Spent some time this evening in my studio playing around with Yupo Paper.   It is fun to work on a different type of surface.  This painting was done a few months ago.   Generally I start out putting down color and then wiping out where I want something to be.  The nice part about this paper is if you do not like something it is generally easy to wash off and start again.

The hummingbirds are one of my favorites to paint.   I cannot wait until they return .  It should not be too long.  Have a friend that is tracking them and it looks like they are due soon.   Will let you know when they get here.

Well time to say goodnight and sleep tight.   Thanks for stopping by to visit.   God Bless!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Flowers may freeze!

Like all gardeners I am following the weather closely.   The forecast for Monday night looks as if it may freeze.   All my darlings are blooming so well.  My favorite Virginia Bluebells are just coming out to play.  I am not sure they are tough enough to withstand 28 degrees.   They generally do not start to bloom until the middle of April.   Perhaps the woods will give them some protection from the cold.

Sarge and I went for our walk with the camera after church.  The sun visited us a bit so I was able to get a few pictures while everything looked lovely.

When my hubby and I built our home over thirty years ago we decided to keep things as natural as possible.   In some ways that has been great.  There is a great deal of maintenance needed to keep things under control.    It is a good thing I love the wild look. 


Hope you enjoyed your visit to Harmony Hills. 
May God Bless all of you with pleasant dreams.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Other Man in My Life

I have a confession I have another man in my life.   His name is Sarge.  I love him dearly.   He is the perfect companion.   When I want to go for a walk so does he.   If I want to sit outside for hours sketching or gardening - he is near by.  He always wants to please me.  Thank goodness my husband is not the jealous type.  In fact I think he really appreciates that Sarge takes pride in protecting me when he is not around.   Sarge is four legged and the most beautiful german shepherd you would ever want to meet.   He will be nine this fall.    I have had him since he was 8 weeks old.  There have been some wonderful dogs in my life but Sarge is the best. 

Love the line in " Bridges of Madison County" where  Clint Eastwood says to Meryl Streep, (not sure I am quoting exactly) "this kind of certainy only comes once in a lifetime".  That captures my feelings where Sarge is concerned.   I am certain I will never love another dog like I love him.

Been busy mowing yard this evening.   I believe this is the earliest my hubby and I have ever mowed.   The grass is so green and it is growing like crazy.

Finished a card for a friend at my church.   She just recently lost her husband.  She  also just found out her job will be gone in just a few short weeks.   I think she could use a bit of cheer.  

Speaking of cheer I hope that all of you reading my blog are getting a bit of it as well.   May God bless you all until next time!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

First Day of Spring

Whew! Spring is officially here.  With this nice warm weather we are having I am feeling like I am dreadfully behind.  Cleaning, yard work and gardening have me scrambling to and fro. (I think a bit more fro than to .)  Generally March in the Midwest means some nice days and some cold rainy ones.  Not this feels like late May. 

I am loving it though!

Blue Squill
At the beginning of 2012 I set myself some creative goals for the coming year.   One of these was to sketch a different flower that was blooming in the garden each week.  Blue squill was my first drawing of the spring season.   Daffodils, forsythia, chinadoxa, and peach tree blossoms are in bloom now. Looks like I will have a choice.   Keep you posted on this creative endeavor.

If I do not set small challenges for myself I might let the season pass without "seeing" the sweet blessings of this life.  I think in fact that when we stop and "see"  the ordinary things we partake in the extraordinary!

Seeds of Faith
This evening I worked outdoors planting larkspur, iceland poppies and some radishes.   Indoors I started a few tomatoes and peppers.  Then for "my soul" I sowed a few shasta daisies, foxglove and coneflowers.  I like to think as I put the seeds into the dirt I am sowing seeds of faith.  

My wish is that all of you be blessed with time to savor the "sweet things" and sow a bit of faith .   Let me know how it grows!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Gluten-Free Banana Cream Pie

When I decided to start this blog I thought I would stick mostly with art and art related subjects.  I have changed my mind..  I am an artist and I do love creating but creativity spills over into all aspects of my life.  In my humble opinion I think because we are created beings made in God's image we were made to create as well.

Long before I every picked up a pen or brush I was pursuing cooking and baking.   There was a year in fact when I sampled a new recipe for every day of the year.   (How crazy is this?)

The practice paid off later though when we discovered my husband was celiac.  For any of you who do not know what that is - it is someone allergic to gluten.   Cooking and baking became a challenge for me because I no longer was able to use certain items that were staples in my kitchen.  I have had to re-design or "create" new ways of cooking favorite dishes.   Here is my gluten -free recipe for Banana Cream Pie.  Hope even those of you who are not celiac will enjoy it.   Just substitute the gluten free shell for a regular baked pie shell, using all purpose flour in place of the gluten-free mixture.  

Gluten-Free Banana Cream Pie
                            Gluten-Free Pastry Shell Baked: 1 1/2 C Gluten-Free Flour Mix, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 c. oil, 2 Tblsp. milk - In medium bowl, combine first 3 ingredients.   Add oil and milk; blend well and pat into 9" pie pan, fluting edge.  ( I use wax paper to help me pat the gluten free flour mixture into pan).   Bake at 425 degrees for 12 min. 

Banana Cream Filling
1 C. sugar, 1/4 c. cornstarch, 1/2 tsp. salt, 3 C. Milk, 2 eggs slightly beaten, 3 Tblsp. butter, 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, 2 lg firm bananas, 1 c heavy whipping cream, 1 Tblsp. Sliced almonds
In large microwave safe bowl stir sugar and cornstarch, salt and milk until smooth.  Place bowl in microwave for 10 -15 min. at medium high heat , stirring every 5 min. until thick; place a small amount of warm mixture into the lightly beaten eggs, then return mix back into the hot mixture and cook in microwave on low for approx. 1 to 2 min.  Take out of microwave and place plastic wrap on top of mixture and refrigerate for 1/2 hr.  Slice the two bananas and put them on the bottom of the cooled pie shell.   After 1/2 hr. place the cooled pudding mixture over top of the fruit and once again place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the pudding and place in refrigerator for 8 hours or overnite.  Top with sweetened whip cream and almonds.

Gluten-Free Banana Cream  Pie
          Happy Baking from Harmony Hills - Have a Blessed Day!                        

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St Patty's Day

What a gorgeous St. Patty's Day.  It has just been the most loveliest weather here - temps in the 70's and all the spring bulbs are opening up.   It feels more like a day of summer.

Started the morning out early with a bit of painting in the studio.   Been working on a new small floral.  This is on hot press paper .  It is a bit more of a challenge for me but I love the way the colors  seem to take to the surface. I like it when I do pen and ink drawings.  I have recently started using Stonehenge for illustrations.  It is heavy enough to accept some watercolor washes if you do not use too much water with your paint.
Early Garden Patch
By 10:30 a.m. I was out in the garden planting sugar snap peas and some lettuce and beets.  I try to keep to a tradition of planting peas on St. Patrick's Day.  Some years the weather does not cooperate but today it was truly a delight to be outdoors.

Hope that all of you have a great St. Patrick's Day.   God Bless!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Birds are Singing Spring - Spring - Spring

The birds have been singing their spring songs.  Have any of you noticed how different they sound once the weather starts to warm?  I love to hear the birds in the mornings.  Today I think they knew the time was changing. Seemed like their chorus was even louder as the sun started to come up.

I picked some pussy willows and forsythia this afternoon to bring indoors.   Once the forsythia gets inside for a few days it should open up.   The willows are already out.

I am amazed how fast the willow bush turned into a tree.   It was just a twig when I planted it and now look - it is really large.  May have to give it a serious haircut once it is done blooming.

This is an update of my floral painting.  Darkened the background a bit but am still working with it.   I am going to set it aside for a bit and then perhaps with a fresh eye I will see what it needs.  It is so very easy to overwork watercolors. 

In the meantime I did a different version in mixed media.   It is much more illustrative.  This one I used pen and ink and watercolor with a bit of colored pencil thrown in.  Still have some finishing touches I want to do.

My hubby preferred this one and I trust his judgement.   He is always honest with me.  What a blessing he is.

Hope you enjoyed your visit today - stop back soon.   God Bless!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Crocus - Snowdrops - Spring

Yes the crocus are blooming at Harmony Hills.   The snowdrops have been out there braving the winter all by themselves but now they have company.   I always love to see these spring harbingers.

Perhaps we are like the crocus all closed up while winter hits us. Then when the sun comes out we unfurl our petals and let the Creator's love warm us and give us hope.   Who hasn't experienced the season of winter in their soul?   Then suddenly there comes a day when the light comes into us and warms us and we once again are filled with joy.  

Today was one of those days for me - I do so love spring and before I ever picked up a brush or pencil I passionately loved flowers.   My mom has a picture of me picking pansies when I could have only been two or so.   My love affair with blossoms started early and it has remained so for 50 some years.

In the beginning when I discovered I loved doing art.  I really wanted to be able to paint flowers.  They are  a loving gift from our Heavenly Father.   He sends them to us in so many wonderful colors and then romances us with their heady perfume. So for all those of you who love them may you enjoy their bliss this spring.

First Crocus of the Season
Hope these photos bring you a bit of joy today.

I've been working on the spring watercolor floral  that I posted back a while.   Plan to share an update next post.

May God's love warm all of you this night . God bless you and come back to visit soon.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Gift

Welcome back to Harmony Hills.  In my first post  I wrote about my deep friendship with my mentor and teacher.   With her special permission she agreed to let me post a picture of her lovely watercolor painting.  It was one she painted as a gift for me.  I have it hanging in the foyer area of my home where I can see it every day.

Perhaps when you view it you will understand why I wanted to take up watercolors.   Her work is and always has been such an inspiration to me.  I once told her I learned more about painting watching her paint.  She has a magical way of seeing things and her paintings always speak to my heart.   There is something very spiritual in her work.   I know this photo will not do justice to the actual art itself but hope you will get a glimpse of the talent of this wonderful lady.

Hats off to my dear friend.   God bless You !

Friday, March 2, 2012

A watercolor journey

This evening while I was out for my walk I started thinking about watercolors and an artist's journey.   I've been painting  for 10 years with this fun & frustrating medium.  In so many areas I feel as if I am just a beginner and I bet if the Good Lord lets me have another 10 I'll still feel very much a novice.  As I consider all the bad paintings I've done and the ones I thought were okay but should have been tossed;  I've come to know art is truly like taking a trip.  There are bumpy roads, rocky mountains, and smooth seas when traveling.  What keeps me coming back daily and painting is the true challenge of watercolor and the sheer luminous beauty of water and paint working together.

I've enjoyed doodling with pen and ink, colored pencil, pastels and even dabbling a bit in acrylics but I always  return to watercolors.   They fascinate and surprise me in their magic.  So if any of you have felt like this at times and wanted to give up - consider the thought that  art is a journey and not a destination.  It truly is about having fun along the way and making friends and creating something that is and can only be done by you in your unique way.

Inventory color chart
In the winter I sometimes get the "lazies" or those moments when there really is nothing I want to paint.  This year to combat those times I decided to paint charts (believe me they are not beautiful ) but they kept me pushing the brush around.  First I did a chart of all the colors I have in my possession .   Wow what an exercise!  I had tubes of paint tucked away that I didn't even know I had and some that had never even been open.   It took me about a week to paint the chart but I really got into it and discovered some really great colors.   (So much for working with a limited palette).   Then I worked with a chart of greens - that is a very difficult color for me.   How about any of you?

Chart of green mixes
Sometimes the simple activities lead to inspiration and this helped me during one of those dry times.  I even got the idea that I might try doing a painting of foliage using  the different mixes of green.  I will maybe wait until next year's winter blahs because right now I have snowdrops blooming and they are calling me to come out and paint them.

God bless you all ! Be sure to come visit me real soon.



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